-- American painter
63.5 cm (30 x
(click on the
image to step
That Sargent would
paint such a distinguished
and fully finished self-portrait might seem strange given that by 1907
he had grown intolerably weary of portraiture. In fact, he was doing
he could to avoid taking on new commissions, but of the three oil
this one seems the most distinguished to me -- maybe because of his
It seems we have
the Uffizi Gallery
of Florence, to thank for this painting.
rare honor the Uffizi asked Sargent for his portrait to add to their
collection of Self-portraits which is unique in the world.
It had previously been thought that Sargent had painted this in
1907, but Sargent scholars Ormond and Kilmurray have uncovered that it
was in the first quarter of the previous year ('06) when the honoured
invitation came to him. Sargent accepted the request to the director of
the Royal Galleries of Florance on March 2nd: "I highly appreciate the
honour you confer upon me by the invitation to contribute my portrait
to the historical collection in your galleries. I beg to express my
thanks to you for this privilege, of which I will most gladly avail
myself" (Archivio Gallerie Fiorentine, Arte 551;
quoted in "The Later Portraits,"
Ormond and Kilmurray, p. 177)
For those that
don't know, the Uffizi
Gallery is the prominent gallery in Florence and houses one of the
collections in the world. In the mid 17th century, Cardinal Leopoldo
Medici began collecting self-portraits of great Masters which started
rare collection, and the Gallery would continued collecting
from distinguished artist up through the 20th century -- I assume
still doing it. Sargent had been asked to join in the company of such
as Michelangelo, Rembrant, Titian, Ingres, Velazquez, Van Dyck, Rubens,
Canova, Delacroix, Bernini, Salvator Rosa, Hayez, Corot, Beccafumi,
Carracci -- and on -- and on -- and on.
contemporary to Sargent,
whom had already been asked were Bonnat, Fantin-Latour,
Bouguereau and Zorn. In that same year, Philip
Wilson Steel was also asked to join.
Sargent finally painted the portrait he was on his trip to the Val
d'Aosta. Always enjoyng the opportunity to paint out of doors, he did
it by hanging a mirror to a tree.
An Exhibition -- Whitney
Museum, NY & The Art Institute of Chicago 1986-1987
and Italy, 2002-2003